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News Releases from Region 10

Grain Handling Facility at Freeman, Washington Added to Superfund Cleanup List

Contact Information: 
Judy Smith EPA Public Affairs (smith.judy@epa.gov)

(September 28, 2015 - Seattle) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added the Grain Handling Facility at Freeman, in Spokane County, Washington, to the Superfund National Priorities List. The site was added to the NPL after EPA considered input received during a 60-day public comment period following the site's proposed listing in March 2015.

"Ensuring that the health of students, teachers and workers in the Freeman School District was protected from groundwater contamination is the driving force behind making the Grain Handling Facility at Freeman a cleanup priority," said Rick Albright, Director of the EPA Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup. "It is also important to protect our precious groundwater resources."

During a 2013 EPA site inspection, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform were found in soil at the Grain Handling Facility at Freeman and in groundwater collected from nearby water supply wells. One of the wells impacted by the contamination is the sole water supply well for the Freeman School District campus which includes their primary, middle and high schools.

The school water system serves approximately 900 people including students, teachers and workers on a regular basis throughout the school year. In the short term, the school's water supply well is safe for drinking because it was fitted in 2013 with a water treatment system to remove carbon tetrachloride and chloroform contamination prior to distribution. However, a long term objective is to ensure the ground water meets drinking water standards without the school needing to commit their limited resources to treat the water.

The Washington State Department of Ecology, the Washington State Department of Health, the Spokane Regional Health District and the Freeman School District requested EPA's involvement in addressing the contamination issues at Freeman. Ecology will be overseeing further studies to identify the extent of the contamination and cleanup of the site.

"The state is committed to protecting the community and cleaning up the contaminated soil and groundwater," said Jim Pendowski, Program Manager for Ecology's Toxics Cleanup Program. "Adding the site to the Superfund National Priorities List highlights how important it is to get the job done."

Additional information about the Grain Handling Facility at Freeman can be found on the EPA website at http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/cleanup.nsf/sites/GHFF.

The public comments submitted and EPA's response to comments can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov (Enter EPA-HQ-SFUND-2015-0141 in the search field).

EPA's Superfund program investigates and cleans up complex and uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites to protect people's health and the environment, with the ultimate goal of ensuring their productive use in the community.